The press can hardly conceal its glee that after a few days of bad press for Hillary Clinton, who paid for Russian dirt against Donald Trump, they now have some nobody named George Papadopoulos in their corner against the president.
The Washington Post exults that there are “several big, juicy questions emanating from the former Trump foreign policy adviser’s plea deal.” Imagine the Post talking about “juicy” questions concerning problems for Barack Obama? I don’t think so.
But Papadopoulos doesn’t provide evidence or even a suggestion of anything criminal. All he — a non-paid, low-level “advisor” — did is suggest that he was talking to the Russians to try to facilitate contact between them and the Trump campaign. There is no evidence in it that much of anything came of his efforts. What’s more, he was given the blowoff by two top Trump people he contacted, Paul Manafort and Corey Lewandowski, though policy advisor Sam Clovis indulged him.
As the always excellent Andrew McCarthy points out in the National Review, nothing Papadopoulos did or tried to arrange smacks of criminality.
The term “collusion” can have a dark connotation, but it really only means some kind of concerted activity — not necessarily illegal. Prosecutors don’t care about collusion; they care about conspiracy — an agreement by two or more people to commit a violation of a criminal statute. That is, even if there is some concerted activity, collusion is not a crime unless the Trump campaign conspired with the Putin regime to do something federal law makes a crime — for example, to hack communications systems.
If Trump officials and associates did not do this, then their activities may be unsavory, but they are not criminal. It is a disgraceful thing for an American political candidate to seek damaging information about his or her opponent from a despicable, anti-American regime. But it is not illegal. A criminal investigation is about proving crimes, not revealing dirty politics.
It’s very telling that former campaign chief Paul Manafort was accused of no crimes related to the campaign. If there was anyone that would be orchestrating a conspiracy, it would be Manafort, given his penchant for questionable ethical practices and his own ties to Russia.
Instead, Mueller has, as McCarthy refers to him, a young, 30-year-old “climber” named Papadopoulos. Who hails from the islands of Galápagos. I gather, anyway.